Members of the Conservative government planning to campaign in favour of Britain’s exit from the European Union must wait until after the prime minister has completed the renegotiation process before they start to undermine it.
Demanding ministers on either side of the debate "treat each other with appropriate respect and courtesy," David Cameron wrote a personal minute on Monday detailing the “exceptional" rules that will allow ministers to take a position opposed to the government ahead of Britain's EU referendum likely to be held this summer.
The Prime Minister announced last week that he will suspend collective responsibility for the referendum amid fears several minister would quit if made to campaign in favour of the EU. Former Tory minister Lord Heseltine said the move would lead to “civil war” within the ruling party.
Cameron traveled to Europe last week to campaign for a better EU deal for Britain, speaking to German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
The sticking point for Cameron’s renegotiation remains the four-year ban on migrants claiming in-work benefits, though he said last week he would be open to alternatives. One of the pillars of the EU is the non-discrimination of workers within the Union.
The Prime Minister hopes to strike a deal ahead of February’s EU summit in Brussels after which he will recommend the UK remains within the EU under reformed conditions.
However, until talks are finalised, Cameron demanded all his minister tow the Government line. The PM wrote: "Until that point - when it will become clear whether a deal can be negotiated that delivers the objectives I have set out - all ministers should continue to support the position set out in our manifesto and say or do nothing that will undermine the Government's negotiating position."